(WINDSOR, ON) – Money saved by Ontario’s 24 community colleges, including St Clair in Windsor and Chatham, as a result of the current labour strike, which has seen some 12,000 faculty on the picket line, will be put into a special fund. The monies will be used to support students experiencing financial hardships because of the strike.
Deb Matthews, Ontario’s Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, has committed to personally work with the colleges and their enrolled students to develop what she called the, “parameters of the fund.”
Matthews said she has spoken with the College Student Alliance and will have them provide the best ideas to make sure, what she calls, the reinvestment will directly benefit students who have not fared well financially during the strike.
In Matthews opinion, the students, “have been in the middle of this strike for too long and it’s just not fair.” Some of the issues students are facing include paying for unexpected costs like additional rent or canceling long-standing travel plans to be home with their families.
“They’ve told me they are stressed about when they will be able to complete their studies or if there will be any extra help when classes finally resume,” reported Matthews.
Although largely supportive of the move on the part of the government, Warren Smokey Thomas, the head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union which represents the faculty, opined the, “government’s plan to treat students fairly should be matched by moves by the colleges to treat faculty fairly.”
Thomas went on to say, “It’s important to remember that the fund the minister has announced is being paid for by faculty, not by the colleges. I can’t see why the colleges still refuse to bargain, still refuse to agree to no-cost items, and insist on clawing money out of the classroom through their demands for concessions.”
From his perspective, he noted that if, “the minister can tell the colleges how to spend the money they’ve saved, she can tell them how to bargain fairly as well.”
The faculty will be voting this week on the College Employer Council’s latest offer.